In an article on The Chronicle for Higher Education, Casey Fabris takes a look at a study done on the differences between public blogs and private journal entries.
With the current hype about blogging, Drew foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology, decided to try them in his introduction to sociology course. He immediately noticed a higher quality of work than what he had seen when students submitted private journals. He then decided to see what differences there might be between the two formats.
Initially he had expected to find that blogs resulted in more thoughtful reflections, which didn’t seem to be the case. After looking through a large collection of journal and blog entries from the University of Michigan, he discovered that one format wasn’t necessarily better than another, they were just different.
It seemed that when students were writing for a public blog, where fellow students could see and comment, they took more intellectual risks, crafting complex arguments on controversial discussions. While students who where tasked with writing a private journal took more personal risks sharing their own personal experiences.
As an example, Mr. Foster mentions that a student discussing the American dream may use her own family’s socioeconomic status or financial struggles; however, she might hesitate the share something so personal on a public blog.
Ultimately, it comes down to instructors needing to decide what is best for their courses. Mr. Foster goes on to say, “It’s to our benefit as teachers and instructors to try and maximize the type of reflection and the quality of reflection that students are engaging in.”
It’s no secret that higher education is expensive. It’s also no secret that higher education is important. It’s drilled into the heads of children from the time they enter the public school system that their main goal should be to attend a college or university. But as the economy continues to struggle, many people speculate as to the value of their investment in higher education when they graduate deep into debt and are unable to find a job. They paid a great deal of money in order to make a great deal of money, but for some their investment never returns.
Never in history has knowledge been so accessible. We are never more than thirty seconds away from an abundance of information since new digital technologies have transformed society for young generations. Some can speculate as to the point of spending thousands of dollars to sit in a classroom and learn something they could easily learn from their couch on their phone. Why should they go into debt over this? St. John’s College President Christopher Nelson has the answer to this question in his article on the Washington Post Blog.
The answer is simple: Universities should not be promoting the transfer of information, but rather the maturation of the student attending. That is the true point of attending a university. Anyone can learn anything, but the ability to apply that learning and use it independently is what you take away from your four—or five or six—years in college. This theory comes from St. John’s College President Christopher B. Nelson.
Nelson believes that by removing the economic lens from our outlook on a college education we can see the true ‘value’ of our investment. We can better ourselves and our ability to interpret and gather information through attending college, through working with caring teachers, through participating in extracurricular activities, through applying our knowledge in an internship, through working on long-term projects. College has so many more benefits than monetary ones, and as a society we should start acknowledging them.
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